Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump Is Right: It's Time to Deprecate NATO and Denuclearize

NATO: Soooooo 1949!!

"Deprecate" is a fancy software word that means, "That's so last year. Don't use it any more. Everybody's doing this new thing . . . ."

I'm sure many in the defense establishment are having a conniption over Trump's deprecation of NATO. But maybe they just need to get with the times . . . ?

Ever since the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012, I've been struggling with this problem: NATO isn't helping us, and is probably hurting us, but it's got loads of supporters in the establishment and the general public is puzzled about what it's all about. So how do we ever move on?

That's why the word "deprecate" seems appropriate. While admitting that it's going to take some time to work the remnants out of the system, let's set our sights on the next thing and start developing.

You can see how how ready NATO is to be retired by looking at how even its supporters talk about it. Yesterday's New York Times touted the importance of NATO by dragging out the tired old quip that got the whole thing started 70 years ago:

"keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in and the Germans down"

(Oh, yeah, and the Times cited NATO's role in those paragons of successful military adventure: "Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, and elsewhere.")


For years, I've been writing about the need for the US president to get down to the real business at hand: finish the job of negotiating nuclear disarmament with Russia.

Obama wouldn't even sit down with Putin. By scheduling a meeting with Putin, Trump is already ahead of the game.

As for NATO, one glaring problem is its annual war games at the Russian border (e.g. "US Army Launches War Games on NATO's Eastern Flank"). I wonder if during the next 48 hours, Trump will say something similar to his remarks with respect to Korea:

"Holding back the 'war games' during the negotiations was my request because they are VERY EXPENSIVE and set a bad light during a good faith negotiation. Also, quite provocative. Can start up immediately if talks break down, which I hope will not happen!"

That would lead to more conniptions at the Pentagon, I'm sure.

On the other hand, the nations of Europe (including all those erstwhile NATO members) should be the first to see the urgency of denuclearizing.

The US and Russia control the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons.
(Image: Global News)

(More on Europe and denuclearization.)

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Monday, July 9, 2018

The Multimedia Church: Movie Night

Poster for screening of The Interrupters
at St. Luke's Logan Square, Chicago.
A friend brought up the idea the other night of having movie night at church.

It reminded me that we did quite a few screenings at the church I attended in Chicago, St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square. It occurs to me that the list of St. Luke's film screenings is not yet assembled in a single place, so here it is:

(We also screened Gasland, Love Free or Die, Encounter Point, and 9500 Liberty.)

The recent conversation reminded me that there were a few things we learned from our "Social Justice Film Series" at St. Luke's:

* Purpose - It's important to know what you are trying to do. We thought of ourselves as trying to encourage conversation on issues of concern to people in the congregation, and in the larger community.

* Connection to congregational activities - Often we were able to make a direct connection to one or more of the missions or activities of the congregation.

* Spread the word! - As the links above suggest, we did a number of things to tell people about each screening -- before and after each event. 

* Guest panelists - We were fortunate to be able to find one or two (or sometimes more!) knowledgeable guests to help with discussion following each film. Chicago has a wealth of community organizers and social justice activists.

* Discussion time - We learned that we needed to plan in order for there to be adequate time for discussion. Often we used Sunday afternoons for the film screenings/discussions (because after an evening film screening many people don't have the energy for discussion), and we tried to select films that were not too long.

* Steering - We had quite a robust social justice committee, and the process of programming the "Social Justice Film Series" was itself quite rewarding to the participants.

* Food - Last but not least: we always had a more lively participation and discussion if we provided ample refreshments.

Of course, this is not to say that we had all the answers. But we did start to understand some of the questions!

Now . . . I'm curious to learn about what other churches are doing with their movie nights!

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